07 June 2009

Viking presence in the Canadian Arctic

Viking colonization of North America has if course previously been well documented at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Now Canadian archaeologists believe they have discovered another site, this one much further north, on Baffin Island:
One of Canada's top Arctic archeologists says the remnants of a stone-and-sod wall unearthed on southern Baffin Island may be traces of a shelter built more than 700 years ago by Norse seafarers...

At three sites on Baffin Island, which the Norse called "Helluland" or "land of stone slabs," and another in northern Labrador, the researchers have documented dozens of suspected Norse artifacts such as Scandinavian-style spun yarn, distinctively notched and decorated wood objects and whetstones for sharpening knives and axes.

Among the new artifacts found near the sod-and-stone features at Nanook is a whalebone spade, consistent with tools found at Norse sites in Greenland, and which might have been used to cut sections of turf for the shelter.

There is also evidence at Nanook of what appears to be a rock-lined drainage system comparable to others found at proven Viking sites.

The apparent "architectural elements" found at the site still have to be confirmed, Sutherland says. "They're definitely anomalous for Dorset culture, and, when you see these things in connection with Norse artifacts, it suggests that there may have been some kind of a shore station."


  1. being the devil's advocate here. Aren't the arrow heads found in North America pretty much the same as the ones found in Africa? Are we then to assume the Natives of Zimbobwa sailed in canoes to North America, or do we see tools of the stone/bronze/iron age to be a one way ticket (there really isn't another way to make them) half joking of course

  2. Neo, I don't believe the word "arrowhead" appears in this post. I also believe that arrowheads often exhibit culturally distinctive traits, so a Zimbabwean arrowhead on Baffin Bay would stand out.

    Remember, the only thing that separates us from any of our ancient ancestors is accumulated technology. And 700 years ago is not ancient at all.


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